Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com

Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com

Back in November, I wrote about the publisher Penguin pulling some e-books from public library lending, then restoring them.

Well, as of February 10, 2012, they are severing their relationship with Overdrive.com, which effectively cuts off most public library loans. There does seem to be ongoing negotiations, but this is definitely a change.

They may work out some sort of continuance program meaning that for now, books that are already in library e-book collections from Penguin will be available. However, they also are prohibiting wireless lending of Kindle editions.

We have to be a bit careful about this. Penguin is not saying that they don’t want their e-books available through public libraries period…just through Overdrive. However, since Overdrive is so dominant, that’s a bit like saying you can use your boat anywhere except the water. ;)

Macmillan and Simon & Schuster (and I believe Hachette) already don’t license e-books to public libraries, and HarperCollins limits them.

Needless to say, there is and will be backlash about this Penguin decision.  This

Media Bistro article

reproduces a sign that libraries can get from Google Docs to explain the situation to patrons.

Let’s make this simple: I think restricting library lending is bad for the public, bad for the publisher. I do think an alternative could be found…I’ve mentioned before that I could see the publishers do direct lending on a needs-tested  basis, for example.

In the short run, though, this is just not a good thing.

By the way, I wrote recently about how to install the Overdrive app on your Kindle Fire…you could get EPUB books from public libraries wirelessly that way…

Feel free to comment on this…and to let Penguin USA know what you think:

 ecommerce@us.penguingroup.com

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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19 Responses to “Penguin drops relationship with Overdrive.com”

  1. Deb Schmalz Says:

    Woah! This is very bad news. I already try not to buy books from these publishers or their imprints for my Kindles, but I believe this is righteously wrong. I think it’ll come back to bite ‘em in the long run.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deb!

      I’ve said before that I think industry leaders lose that position not when they underestimate the competition, but when they overestimate their customers’ loyalty. I’m not quite sure about the thought process here: “I can’t find this book at the library…so I guess I’ll pay $12.99 for it.” I think it’s more likely that more people will start using the public library…and going with whatever they find there.

  2. Tanga Moody aka PokerRun3 Says:

    This is another slap in the face to e book readers. I feel that Penguin especially has it out for Amazon and Kindle owners.

    Publishers need to grow with the times or they may very well sit still and end up like the Postal Service has.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tanga!

      Penguin and Amazon have worked together before…but they’ve also had their disagreements.

      I don’t think they are ignoring new technologies…they just want the future on their own terms. That doesn’t tend to work out very well. ;)

  3. karin Says:

    I think in the end, publishers will have to work with libraries and digital users to sell their books, to make money. E-readers have become so popular and inexpensive, that having an e-reader will be as popular as having an iPod.

    I don’t like the way publishers are reacting, but I think in the end, the public will win.

  4. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’ve been making it a point to send an e-mail (if I can find an e-mail address) to publishers to express my dissatisfaction when I disapprove of the way they are handling Kindle content. Whenever I discover a book I’d like to buy but feel is overpriced, I make sure to send a note to the publisher letting them know I’d be more than happy to buy the book when the price drops. I also send feedback to the individual authors letting them know that their publisher’s policy is preventing a sale of their books. Maybe if all of us who are frustrated with publishers who seem determined to discourage the growth of e-books were to make our voices heard, it might eventually get through to them that we aren’t just a niche audience that is going to quietly go away.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I do think publishers notice e-mails…they sort of have to notice them. For one thing, they are easy to track, and that means they become meeting fodder.

      You should find all the major US publishers listed here:

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    You may have seen this already — I commented on this on my G+ kindle page here:

    I hope this method of commenting works :D.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      FYI, I’ve tried to reply to something I got from your Google+, but I think it bounced…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Well, I’m glad you got something. FYI all emails from Google+ look like normal emails, but they are not — they are a special “noreply” notification email that are designed to “bounce” (it’s confusing, I know, because the email looks like it comes from me, but in reality it comes from the G+ notification system on behalf of me).

        Within the body of this email should be a link below the main textual content saying something like “view or comment on Edward Boyhan’s post”. It might not say “Edward Boyhan” as I’m not sure whether the post comes from my personal G+ stream or my G+ “KindlePanda” page stream. In any event clicking on this link will take you to the sending page on G+ where you can reply or comment should you wish to.
        Ed

      • Deb Schmalz Says:

        Edward B., I used your link to Google + and the page says there’s nothing there. I use Google + too and tried to find it but no joy. Do either you or Buford have an answer?

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    My bad, the link was shared privately instead of public. I reshared it public. The new link is:

    I’m somewhat new to G+ myself, and most of what I’ve done with it has involved privately shared posts — I’ll have to get myself in a more “public” frame of mind :D

    Let me know if there are any problems with this link — thx

  7. Mary Says:

    The new type of download for Penguin Overdrive books is now in effect. I just checked one out, and it gave me one option: download via usb. Then it asks which Kindle (if you have more than one), and when it has downloaded, you drag the book into your documents folder or, if you have a Fire, into the Books folder. If you want the book on a 2nd Kindle, which I did, since I read on the Fire at night, you go to Manage your Kindle and again designate which Kindle. This is somewhat of a pain but is still much easier than what you have to go through with an e-pub device and Adobe Digital Editions. I find it amusing that Penguin finds this more “secure” than getting it via wi-fi. Do they think someone will snatch it out of the air on its way to your Kindle? When a library book is transferred via wi-fi, it is still locked in to the individual Kindle you designated, so were someone to steal it from the air, it wouldn’t work on another one anyway.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mary!

      I appreciate that field report!

      I do think that any security concerns aren’t being addressed by switching from wi-fi to sideloading. The book’s exposure doesn’t seem that different, since it’s only the very end transfer that changes.

      What it does do is make it less likely that several people on the same account will read the same book…just because it is harder. The simultaneous device licensing may be where their real concern is.

      I think saying that “We’ll only allow library lending if it is so irritating that people are mad at us when they do it instead of grateful,” doesn’t make a lot of sense. :)

      • Mary Says:

        If Penguin’s new annoyance is only directed at Amazon, I would point out that e-pub library books, which are all sideloaded, may be placed on more than one device. But I do see what you mean—if some on an Amazon account are not in the same physical location, it would cut down on who is able to read them. God forbid that a book should be read by more than one person. I’m sure Penguin would love somehow to restrict the reading of a physical book as well. Before the Kindle, I can’t tell you how many books I have bought after first checking them out of the library, but publishers don’t seem to understand this.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Mary!

        Hypothetically, the cost of those second market reads of physical books are built into the cost. If they could control the number of times a physical book could be read, one might expect the price of paperbooks to come down…or not. ;)

        That’s part of why textbooks are so expensive: they are commonly resold, and each one has a limited “shelf life”, so that cuts into the first sales.

  8. Karen Says:

    My library still has their books, you just can’t download by WI FI and you have to use the USB cord. I guess it will depend on how much someone wants a book. I don’t see it as a great hassle but I find that the waiting list for library books is so long, I don’t bother much anymore.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      Overdrive tries to sell the idea of licensing books to public libraries in part by the “discovery” value. People see your book at the library, but can’t get it, so they buy it instead. Are some people who are getting some e-books at the public library see a Penguin book but say, “It’s just not worth the trouble to get it without the wi-fi,” and later buy it because they’d noticed it? Maybe…

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